On NLRB Nominees, Confirmation Hearing Equals Accountability

By October 15, 2009Labor Unions

The Wall Street Journal today editorializes on President Obama’s three nominees to the National Labor Relations Board and the need for the Senate HELP Committee to hold confirmation hearings to delve into the records and thinking of the candidates, in particular, former SEIU counsel Craig Becker. From “Acorn’s Ally at the NLRB,” with the sub-hed, “Obama appoints an SEIU man with ties to Blago”:

Mr. Becker is associate general counsel at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is most recently in the news for its close ties to Acorn, the disgraced housing shakedown operation. President Obama nominated Mr. Becker in April to the five-member NLRB, which has the critical job of supervising union elections, investigating labor practices, and interpreting the National Labor Relations Act. In a 1993 Minnesota Law Review article, written when he was a UCLA professor, Mr. Becker argued for rewriting current union-election rules in favor of labor. And he suggested the NLRB could do this by regulatory fiat, without a vote of Congress.

Yet now that he could soon have the power to act on this conviction, Mr. Becker won’t tell Congress if this is what he still believes. In written responses to questions from Republican Orrin Hatch, Mr. Becker promised only to “maintain an open mind about whether [his] suggestions should be implemented in any manner.” That sounds like his mind is made up but he won’t admit it lest it hurt his confirmation.

The Journal observes that it’s not unusual for nominees to the bipartisan NLRB to be packaged together for a confirmation vote without a hearing, and in this case, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), ranking Republican on the HELP Committee, understandably wants to ease things for the GOP candidate, his former committee aide, Brian Hayes. (The other nominees is Mark Pearce, a longtime labor lawyer from Buffalo.)

But too much is at stake with the National Labor Relations Board, and the pro-labor majority could push organized labor’s jobs-killing agenda through regulation and rulings, achieving what could not be achieved through Congress.

We posted on the nominees yesterday at the Manhattan Institute’s legal blog, Point of Law, commenting: “You would think that an Obama Administration, intent on transparency, would insist that its nominees receive the public scrutiny that comes with confirmation hearings.”

Accountability demands a hearing.


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